Cody Walker has credited a heart to heart with South Sydney coach Jason Demetriou for igniting his 2022 NRL season in the Rabbitohs’ 32-30 win over the Warriors at Suncorp Stadium.
Walker only had five try assists prior to Saturday’s game for this year but had a hand in three Souths tries in front of 30,503 fans at the NRL’s Magic Round in Brisbane.
After being handed the captaincy following an injury to Cameron Murray, Walker rose to the occasion.
The 32-year-old has struggled for chemistry with young halflback Lachlan Ilias, but in the first 40 minutes set up Taane Milne down the right, Alex Johnston on the left and dabbed a grubber in-goal for Blake Taaffe to dive on.
“I just reminded myself of why I do what I do and I love this game,” Walker said.
“I had a chat with JD (Demetriou) earlier in the week to talk about why I play footy.
“It’s what I’ve always known. It’s quite easy to be in that mindset so I needed to scale back my role and that got me in the game.”
Damien Cook also burrowed over and Milne added a second to give the Bunnies a 26-6 lead at halftime.
Marcelo Montoya’s four-pointer was the only response the Warriors could offer in a drab opening 40 minutes for Nathan Brown’s side.
Ilias extended the Rabbitohs’ lead but they began to take their foot off the gas in the final quarter of an hour.
Jazz Tevaga and Adam Pompey went over for the Warriors and the Rabbitohs suffered a further blow when Cook was sin-binned for a professional foul.
When Daejarn Asi scored and Montoya sealed his brace, the Warriors were just two points from tying up the game with a minute to go.
Shaun Johnson’s fluffed long-range field goal attempt meant their late comeback was all in vain.
“It got nervy for sure,” Demetriou said.
“I thought we had enough points in the bank to hold on and I’m pretty happy the boys got through.
“We’ve been busted the last few weeks with flu running through the place and I knew fatigue was going to be an issue late on.”
Souths lost Jacob Host to a dislocated shoulder in the first five minutes with the back-rower set to go for scans.
The rate at which the Warriors’ defence was cut apart in that opening stanza was of concern to Brown.
The Kiwi outfit have just one win from their last four outings. In that period they have suffered a club-record loss to Melbourne and failed to beat a 12-man Cronulla side.
“We can look at it two ways – the comeback and nearly getting there, or we can focus on the first half,” Brown said.
“As their coach we’ve got to focus on the first half. That’s certainly not where we want to be as a football club.
“We certainly don’t want to be a team that doesn’t start games well and ends up a fair way behind on the scoreboard and then has a great fight back.”